08/24/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a "dwarf planet," a designation that will also be applied to the spherical body discovered last year by California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Mike Brown and his colleagues. The decision means that only the rocky worlds of the inner solar system and the gas giants of the outer system will hereafter be designated as planets.
08/10/2006 07:00:00

For the past three years, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory in Southern California have been using the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) as the data transfer cyberinfrastructure to further our understanding of the universe. Recent applications include the study of some of the most cataclysmic explosions in the universe, the hunt for extrasolar planets, and the discovery of our solar system's tenth planet. The data for all this research is transferred via HPWREN from the remote mountain observatory to college campuses hundreds of miles away.

 
08/10/2006 07:00:00
How much damage will certain steel-frame, earthquake-resistant buildings located in Southern California sustain when a large temblor strikes? It's a complicated, multifaceted question, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Pau, France, have answered it with unprecedented specificity using a new modeling protocol.
 
08/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
It may be surprising that a laser beam, when shot to the moon and returned by one of the mirrors the Apollo astronauts left behind, is a couple of miles in diameter at the end of its half-million-mile round trip. This spread is mostly due to atmospheric distortions, but it nonetheless underscores the problems posed to those who wish to keep laser beams from diverging or focusing to a point as light travels through a medium.
 
08/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
When it comes to tiny motors, the flagella used by bacteria to get around their microscopic worlds are hard to beat. Composed of several tens of different types of protein, a flagellum (that's the singular) rotates about in much the same way that a rope would spin if mounted in the chuck of an electric drill, but at much higher speeds-about 300 revolutions per second.
 
06/29/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
Although the magnitude 8.7 Nias-Simeulue earthquake of March 28, 2005, was technically an aftershock, the temblor nevertheless killed more than 2,000 people in an area that had been devastated just three months earlier by the December 2004, magnitude 9.1 earthquake. Now, data returned from instruments in the field provide constraints on the behavior of dangerous faults in subduction zones, fueling a new understanding of basic mechanics controlling slip on faults, and in turn, improved estimates of regional seismic risk.
 
06/12/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have created a new method of detecting heavy water that is 30 times more sensitive than any other existing method. The detection method could be helpful in the fight against international nuclear proliferation.
 
05/12/2006 07:00:00

Astronomers have recently been enjoying front-row seats to a spectacular cometary show. Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 is in the act of splitting apart as it passes close to Earth. The breakup is providing a firsthand look at the death of a comet.

 
05/10/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
There's a time soon after conception when the stem cells in a tiny area of the embryo called the neural crest are working overtime to build such structures as the dorsal root ganglia, various neurons of the nervous system, and the bones and cartilage of the skull. If things go wrong at this stage, deformities such as cleft palates can occur.
 
05/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
An engineer comparing the human adult heart and the embryo heart might never guess that the former developed from the latter. While the adult heart is a fist-shaped organ with chambers and valves, the embryo heart looks more like tube attached to smaller tubes. Physicians and researchers have assumed for years, in fact, that the embryonic heart pumps through peristaltic movements, much as material flows through the digestive system.
 

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